By Natalie Salvatore
For the Opelika
Shine Prom, a prom for teenagers and adults with special needs, is returning on Oct. 19 for its third time.
Lori Fuller, the event’s main organizer, said it is a magical evening for everyone in the community to watch the guests enjoy a prom made exclusively for them. It is a time when everyone comes together to support this great cause.
The prom guests have a night of fun ahead of them, which includes a hair and makeup session, a corsage or boutonniere, a limousine ride, red carpet treatment, access to a photo booth, food, dancing and music.
Although some volunteer areas have already been filled, the event still needs buddy volunteers. In this role, volunteers ages 13 and older will serve as a buddy for a special needs guest. They will stay with the guest the entire evening and help them with the night’s festivities, such as dancing, playing games and having fun.
“The Shine Prom was a magical night for me and for all of the other participants and their buddies as well. It was so rewarding to see so many happy faces,” said Nann Ogletree, a past Shine Prom buddy. “I had as much fun as my sweet buddy, Jared. Whoever came up with the idea of having a Shine Prom is brilliant!”
First-time buddies must attend a mandatory buddy training session preceding the event. Volunteers may attend either the Oct. 10 session from 7 to 7:45 p.m., or the Oct. 13 session from 5 to 5:45 p.m.
“I would definitely encourage others to volunteer to be a buddy! It would be one of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself and for your community,” Ogletree said. “It was an unforgettable experience for me, and I definitely want to do it again!”
Shine Prom is not just for kids. Guests must be at least 13 years old to attend the prom. However, the event hosts special needs guests from all over East Alabama with an age range of 13 to 80 years old. Therefore, Fuller said the event really needs adult buddy volunteers as well.
“We couldn’t do this event if we didn’t have the volunteers. We appreciate the excitement that our community shows and supports for this event,” Fuller said.
Shine Prom currently has nearly 130 guests registered, but still has plenty of room for more. Fuller encourages anyone in the community that has a special needs family member, friend or someone they know that would love to attend Shine Prom to consider signing up.
Registration for both volunteers and guests is open now via the event’s website, shineprom.com. This free event will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. Guests and volunteers are welcome to wear whatever attire they wish, whether that be prom appropriate or casual attire.
The prom attire partners for the event are The Mint Julep Boutique and Gabrielle’s Formals & Events, offering affordable prices for everyone involved. Chick-Fil-A in Tiger Town, Hidden Lakes in Opelika, the Opelika SportsPlex and the Hudson Family Foundation all sponsor the event.
Shine Prom will be held at the Opelika SportsPlex, located at 1001 Andrews Road. For more information, visit the event’s website or contact Fuller at 334-559-4940 or firstname.lastname@example.org.